You feel uneasy and have a nagging sense that things just aren’t right, but surely things will settle down, right?
How do you really know when you are in need of couples counselling?
Here are 5 signs to watch out for:
- Your attempts to sort stuff out end up making things worse.
A lot of relationship problems share a common factor of poor, unhealthy or harmful communication. When you and your partner consistently find yourselves trying to talk things through, but the issue seems to get lost and you end up arguing, someone storms out, becomes abusive in language or uses threats, starts to blame or simply stonewalls, then you know that it’s probably time to get some professional help. A good relationship counsellor can help you interrupt harmful patterns of communicating and guide you in new ways of relating and addressing issues. If these kinds of unhealthy patterns continue for too long without helpful intervention, then relationship dissatisfaction really begins to harm the relationship with the toxins of hurt, resentment and bitterness.
- You’ve stopped talking and feel like you’re walking on eggshells.
When you have experienced repeated failures at trying to talk things through and be heard, then it’s quite common to retreat into silence and avoidance of your partner. This is actually a very dangerous sign that things are not well in your relationship. It usually signals that much hurt and wounding has played out in the space between you and your partner and that you are both feeling hopeless and in gridlock. Trust is fragile between you and you feel vulnerable and unsure of how your partner might respond if you were to try and address the issue again. You fear another blow up and more debris, so silence becomes the sinister third partner in your relationship. This is a definite sign that it’s time to seek some professional couples counselling.
- You deliberately withhold affection
Some partners end up feeling so wounded, offended, angry or bitter that they deliberately withdraw affection and attention from their spouse as a form of control and/or punishment. It is quite normal for the space between the two of you to be somewhat raw after an argument or a conflict, but when things do not get resolved or repaired well, and this becomes a pervasive pattern of the aftermath of a fight, then you know that it’s significant in a negative way. What often follows is a pattern of one partner trying to pursue the other, while the other person is trying to distance themselves. Sometimes you end up sleeping in separate bedrooms and this goes on for more than a night or two. It’s definitely time to seek couples counselling.
- You tend to have intense and perhaps aggressive sex after an argument.
This is sometimes known as “hysterical bonding” and is a couples attempt to re-bond after experiencing significant stress and emotional wounding during times of conflict. The problem with this is that rarely is the issue and emotional wounding addressed, resolved or repaired. Issues tend to get swept under the carpet and over time build to such significant levels that they become all pervasive and harmful in your relationship. If you continue with this pattern, then over time, the relationship breaks down to the point that neither of you can really identify the problem anymore, you just know that it isn’t working. Grief, loneliness and despair characterises your relationship and you begin to seriously consider separation. If this sounds like your relationship, then be encouraged to seek out relationship counselling as a way to start addressing your deeper issues sooner than later.
- You flirt with (or give in to) the idea of having an affair
Unfaithfulness to your partner in either thought or action is a definite sign that the two of you need professional relationship counselling. If you start to give in and allow yourself to fantasise in your head about all the things you see in someone else that you aren’t finding in your partner, then you know that you are in trouble. If you continue to allow your thoughts to roam like this, you can probably expect to act out in some form in the not too distant future, and once you’ve acted out either through an internet dalliance, a flirt with a work colleague, or a full blown affair, you’ve introduced a whole other level of damage to your relationship through betrayal and broken promises.
Don’t wait until you act out on your fantasies; seek some couples counselling asap! And if you have acted out, or discover that your partner has been unfaithful to you, don’t throw it all away in despair and heartbreak. Seek professional counselling either on your own or with your partner for support and guidance on how to proceed.
Bethesda Counselling and Family Therapy offers couples counselling in Perth, Ellenbrook, the Hills and surrounding areas. Call Narelle on 0429 000 830 to enquire about her services or to book your first session.